The following is a guest post by Leah Vanderveldt, a Brooklyn-based wellness writer and recipe developer. You can find Leah’s blog here.
You’ve got your blanket, a beautiful day, and your ideal place to park your picnic, what else do you need to make it a great afternoon enjoying the outdoors?
Putting together the perfect picnic doesn’t require a ton of effort, just some smart, strategic thinking.
Packable picnic food
Forget the potato salad and sad cold cuts, the perfect picnic fare is stuff that’s portable, won’t go off if it sits at room temp for a while, and actually tastes better if you make it ahead.
- Grain salad (I love using farro or quinoa) with lot of herbs, kale, lemon, and olive oil. This will taste more delicious the longer you let it sit so make it the night before
- Raw sliced vegetables for dipping — think radishes, carrots, cucumbers
- Marinated black beans or chickpeas. Combine with a little garlic, fresh lime juice, olive oil, and herbs
- Hummus and/or dips of choice
- Corn Chips
- Roasted vegetable salad. I love a roasted ratatouille because like the grain salad above, it gets better with time and is best served at room temperature
- Pitas — these bring it all together! You can use them for dipping or for creating your own sandwich with all of the above ingredients. Pita’s are great because they can hold a grain salad with roasted vegetables and hummus all at once.
Smarter food packing
I’m all about reducing waste where I can, and my picnic strategy is no different.
I like to bring small reusable cups and silverware (I have reusable wooden forks and spoons), and for plates I’ll either bring enamel ones or the recyclable bamboo kind. I’ll also pack salads and dips in jars or glass tupperware containers. Then I wrap everything in clean kitchen/tea towels, which serve as napkins and to protect any glass in transit.
Definitely pack a big reusable water bottle, but also be sure to include something fun and festive. We’re looking for something tasty, easy to open, and easy to share. Kombucha is always on my list — especially the Orange Carrot Ginger, which is basically sunshine in a bottle.
Extras to take your picnic to the next level
As cheesy as it sounds, my number one ingredient for a good picnic is my favorite people. Living in a city doesn’t always allow for opportunities for spending time just enjoying the outdoors with my loved ones, so any opportunity I get, I try to enjoy it to the max. Some other great extras include portable music speakers, books and magazines, and some simple games like cards or a ball to toss around. Don’t forget your sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen!